A trip down to Orlando isn’t complete without a stop at Universal Studios Orlando, but costs can add up very quickly if you’re not careful. Of course, you can save money on your trip a ton of different ways (as you’ll learn if you hang around my blog long enough!). However, one of the most important is getting the best Universal Studios Orlando discounted ticket deal.
Doing a little bit of extra research before pulling out you credit card can make a huge difference, I’ll go over everything you need to know about getting Universal Studios Orlando discounted tickets — from the best places to buy them to common mistakes. I’ll give you all the tools you need to plan your trip in the most budget-friendly way possible,
This post is sponsored by Orlando Fun Tickets. The #1 ticket seller in Orlando.
The Basics of Theme Park Ticket Buying
Once you know how to navigate the world of travel packages and extended plans, you will be well-prepared to take on Universal Orlando. There are the basic tips that I have discussed in my massive post on getting cheap Disney tickets:
- Be willing to adjust your trip dates. This will save you so much money in the long term, plus you can avoid the crowds.
- Plan on going off-season and on days without special events.
- You have to be willing to make your plans way ahead. This allows you to monitor any upcoming sales or deals that offers savings, which happens more frequently than you might think.
- Be aware of possible scams or illegitimate websites. There are many, many ways to save money on your Universal Orlando vacation, but if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Best Places to Buy Universal Orlando Discounted Tickets
Thanks to the Internet, there are plenty of places to buy your Universal Orlando tickets. Your needs and priorities for your own trip will determine what is the best option for you. Here are some important things to know about the Universal Orlando Resort:
- There are multiple parks all within the same complex. These are: Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Universal’s Volcano Bay. There is also Universal CityWalk, the shopping and nightlife part of the resort. Each park has different features and attractions, which are worth researching so you can prioritize your time there.
- Two types of tickets are available for the Universal parks- Base tickets and Park-to-Park tickets. I’ll explain both of these in more detail later on.
- Annual passes are also available for Universal Orlando, which can sometimes save you money in the long-term (especially if you make multiple trips to Disney a year, like I do!)
There are a couple of really good discount retailers that I always turn to for my Disney tickets. All of the sites I recommend are legitimate and well-respected. Beware of scams suggesting that you could get 50% off your Universal Studios Orlando discounted tickets. The most I have ever seen is around $50, so keep that in mind.
I have a lot of good things to say about this website. I always use UT for booking my own vacations, and really appreciate the amazing discounts. They are an authorized retailer of Disney tickets, including those for Universal Orlando. They buy tickets wholesale from Disney itself, then sell it back to the public with a slight markup.
This site is perfectly legitimate and perfectly awesome. On average, you can save around $30 to $50 per ticket, which adds up really quickly when you’re buying for a family of 4. Also, Undercover Tourist finds and matches special promotions being offered by Universal Orlando itself.
For example, tickets from the official retailer currently have an offer where you can get 3 days free when you buy 2 days. UT has the same, with the extra money off because the tickets are being sold at wholesale prices.
I also love Undercover Tourist because they offer quite a bit of great information with their great ticket prices. They let you know what blackout dates to avoid when planning your trip, what the daily crowd levels are, and what are some good planning tools that they recommend for staying organized. They also offer a great return policy for unused tickets. Plus, you have the option of ordering physical tickets or e-tickets, depending on what gives you the most peace of mind.
I have also heard good things about VisitOrlando, which is a discount Disney ticket site that is very similar to Undercover Tourist. Their prices end up being slightly more than UT’s, which is something to consider when you’re planning your vacation on a tight budget.
The nice thing about VisitOrlando is the extra support they can give you once you arrive in Orlando to start your vacation. They have an official visitor’s center located there, giving out free guides, maps, and expertise. There is a multilingual staff and currency exchange services available as well.
I like the idea of having experts in Orlando who can help figure out your tickets if something goes wrong with them. They could also give you tips and advice when you get there, provided you have time to stop into a visitor’s center instead of diving straight into the parks!
ParkSavers can also be a great resource when you’re on the hunt for the cheapest Universal Orlando tickets. I try to research on all three sites to find the very best deals, just to double check. Like I said, Undercover Tourist usually comes out on top for me, but it’s always a good idea to explore all of your options.
Looking for more? I go into more details of the best places to buy Disney tickets online right over here.
Worst Places to Buy Universal Orlando Tickets
For every great place to buy tickets, I can guarantee there are about five other really bad ones. The trick is telling the difference.
As I previously mentioned, any site that lists Universal Orlando tickets at a jaw-droppingly low price is most likely a scam. There are only so many ways to get around the system.
That being said, not every discount ticket site is absolute villainy. We just talked about some really great ones! Of course, that means that there is no reason to buy your tickets directly from the Universal Orlando website, particularly if you are looking to save money. An extra $30 per ticket may not seem like much, but it adds up if you’re bringing your whole family to the park on vacation for a week. Just give yourself some extra time to do research, and skip the higher rates.
Besides sites that are outright scams, the second worst places would likely be eBay and Craigslist. I’m always seeking out the best deals to live a full life on a budget, and these marketplaces definitely have a role there. However, they are very unreliable when you’re looking to book the perfect vacation. You have absolutely no way of verifying if the tickets someone is selling are actually legitimate. Here are some reasons to avoid these sales:
- The tickets could have been shoplifted or stolen, and would not have any recognized value once you get to the parks.
- The passes could already be partially or entirely used up– it’s only the seller’s word to vouch for them.
- Even seemingly-legitimate receipts and paperwork could have been forged, or the tickets could have already been used.
- Universal Orlando has a bio-metric finger-scanning system, so even if the tickets were only partially used, you might not be able to use them at all.
- There is actually a law in Florida making it illegal to sell partially-used multi-day passes into the parks. If you have any trouble using them to get in, your vacation could very well be ruined.
Which Tickets to Buy
At this point, you know the basics of Universal Orlando ticket buying. You know the places to go to buy your tickets, and where to steer clear. One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make at this point, then, is what tickets you want to buy! You actually have a few options when it comes to purchasing your tickets, and it helps to know what you’re getting into before you send off your money. Bear in mind: every trip and every family is different. Your needs will probably be completely different from the next person reading this, so feel free to explore whatever options seem like the best fit for your trip.
Universal Orlando Resorts offer two types of passes: base tickets and park-to-park tickets.
Base tickets give you full day access to one park. These are great if you’ve never been to Universal Orlando before and/ or really like taking your time to experience the parks. You can buy individual base tickets, but it can sometimes be more cost-efficient to bundle them. For example, you could buy a 2-Park Base Ticket for 2 days and gain entry to Universal Studios Florida on the first day and Universal’s Islands of Adventure on the second (or vice versa)… this saves a bit of money by bundling, too.
3-Park Base Tickets would give you both Studios and Islands, plus Universal’s Volcano Bay water park. You could choose one park per day, and buy as many tickets as you need for your stay. VisitOrlando gives some great info on base tickets here.
Alternatively, you could buy Park-to-Park tickets, which allow you to bounce between two or three parks all on the same day. This could be a better option if you don’t have a lot of time to spend in Universal Orlando, or you’ve visited the resort many times. Another reason to get Park-to-Park? The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™. The most iconic spots of the franchise are located in two different parks, so you would need a Park-to-Park ticket to hop between them on the Hogwarts Express. More information on park-to-park tickets in this article.
You can also buy Express Pass add-ons to both Base and Park-to-Park tickets. These will help you jump lines and skip the wait… but it will definitely cost you. I’m personally willing to be a bit more strategic in my travel plans to avoid the crowds and lines, but it might be worth it if you’re visiting at a busy time of year or lack the flexibility to wait for your favorite rides.
Is there a price difference with all these options? Of course there is. You save a bit more money (think around $50 for an adult) by going with the base tickets instead of the park-to-park. Unless there is a special promotion going on, you can also try to mix-and-match between the types based on your vacation plans.
When it comes to buying your Universal Orlando tickets, there’s a lot that can go wrong. These are usually the first major purchase of your vacation, and they represent a big chunk of the budget. Avoid these common mistakes to make the most of your money:
- Buying an express pass when it’s not necessary. Is an express pass ever really necessary? Perhaps not, but you definitely don’t want to go for the extra splurge at a time when lines are low already.
- Getting bad tickets or being scammed. Have I mentioned this enough? Just wanted to drive the point home that you can save yourself both a headache and heartache by not falling for “cheap Universal Orlando” schemes.
- Not exploring all of the discount ticket sites. I know so many people who are wary of buying their tickets from any other source besides Universal itself (see point #2). However, you waste money unnecessarily if you don’t at least look into the discount sites, and there are some that are perfectly reliable and legit. It doesn’t make much sense to spend more money than you have to for the exact same product.
- Over/ under booking your stay. Let’s be honest here: Universal Orlando is a different kind of park than Disney World itself. There are three small parks within the larger spread, each of which can be comfortably explored and enjoyed in a day or less. It is so easy to either not give yourself enough time to appreciate the fun of Universal, or to give yourself too much time and feel like you wasted both your time and money. So what does this mean? Maybe doing extra research ahead of time to determine what exactly you want to see and how much time you truly want to spend in each park.
This post is sponsored by Orlando Fun Tickets. The #1 ticket seller in Orlando.
I hope this guide can be a resource for you as you book your next Universal Orlando vacation. If you follow my tips, you can save yourself a whole lot of money, while still enjoying all this resort has to offer. Looking for more great ways to save money in Universal Orlando? Learn about maximizing your accommodations on a budget.